Almost everyone who matters has been talking about this week is the English clubs dominating Europe so forgive the Mill if it turns the conversation to more modest outfits. Manchester United had big dreams once and you may even have read on this very page that Ole Gunner Solskjær fancied rebuilding his defence around Matthijs de Ligt, Kalidou Koulibaly or Harry Maguire, but the word now is that Old Trafford’s nostalgist-in-chief is going to have to plot a way forward by switching to Plan Z.
De Ligt remains Barcelona-bound and, apparently, United are not willing to pay the money it would take to sign Koulibaly and Maguire so, according to ESPN, cunning Solskjær has decided to take the Baldrick approach to rebuilding the centre of his defence: “we do nothing”, he is said to have decided, meaning he will stick with what he has got, possibly with the tweak of equipping Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo with Steve Bruce masks.
The only defensive gap that Solskjær could fill, then, will be at right-back, although both United and Arsenal are set to miss out on the man they want most for that position because Spurs are going to shake some of their Champions League booty at Aaron Wan-Bissaka. United’s second choice? Kieran Tripper, apparently. Everything’s coming up Spurs.
Another item on the United agenda is to find another mug willing to pay Â£75m for Romelu Lukaku. The new Internazionale manager, Antonio Conte, is said to want his employers to offer something close to that, making one wonder whether he mentioned that in his job interview.
Meanwhile, Spurs may be a day away from the biggest match in their history but they are making big plans for the future beyond that. Because what’s the point of reaching the Champions League final if you can’t go and bully Crystal Palace? In addition to prising Wan Bissaka away from Selhurst Park, Spurs intend to renew their longstanding interest in Wilfried Zaha and, come on, please don’t stoop to the obvious gag about this being the first time you’ve seen Zaha in the same sentence as the word longstanding. You can save quips like that for James Maddison, whose career is well and truly on the up even though he has spent part of it in freefall.
Maddison, too, is on Spurs’ wish list and will become more of a priority if Christian Eriksen goes to Real Madrid. The other players Spurs really want are Betis schemer Giovani Lo Celso and the Lyon midfield metronome Tanguy Ndombélé.
Elsewhere, with Real Madrid poised to swoop for Eriksen as well as Eden Hazard, Barcelona are going to react by trying to lure back Neymar. They will part-fund that move by flogging Philippe Coutinho, whom Chelsea are keen to buy if they are allowed to.
Unai Emery, meanwhile, plans to fund his revamp of Arsenal by selling Shkodran Mustafi, Mesut Özil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to anyone who will have them. Can you spot the flaw in that plan?
Aston Villa want to prepare for the Premier League by buying Harry Arter from Bournemouth but face competition from Brighton and Fulham.
Last but definitely not least, if the mooted takeover of Newcastle does not happen, then the Toon Army could be hit by another bombshell, as Roma are said to be determined to make Rafael Benítez their new manager.